Consumer Reports on the FCC Broadband maps and how you can make them better

I’ve written about the maps before, but with a deadline of Jan 13, 2023 to comment on them, I figure it’s worth speaking again. Consumer Reports recognizes the inaccuracies and tells readers how to report when their address appears to have wrong broadband info…

A few weeks ago, the Federal Communications Commission released a new national broadband map, which is supposed to help consumers see their options for internet service. Just as important, the map will be used to help determine where some $42.5 billion in federal funds will go to build out better access in places where high-speed, affordable broadband is lacking.

The map has quickly become a battleground for states, including Colorado, New York, and Vermont, which say it doesn’t accurately reflect how many of their citizens lack fast access to the internet. If the FCC map understates the problem, state officials say, they won’t get the funding needed to address the problem.

Despite arguments over the new FCC map, it’s widely acknowledged to be more accurate than the previous version. To judge for yourself, you can plug in your address—and let the FCC know if you find an inaccuracy.

They recognize that the maps mean money…

The new funding was allocated by last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which set up the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program to help more Americans get online. An agency called the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will distribute funds to states based on how many of their residents lack broadband access.

The money could go to big internet service providers such as Comcast or Spectrum to help them build out connections to new neighborhoods and homes, but it can also be directed to smaller providers, private/public partnerships, and cooperatives, including municipal broadband projects. Any project that receives money from the states will be required to provide an affordable option for low-income households.

How you can help make the maps better…

The information in the map is being provided by internet service providers. To see if you agree with what they’ve told the FCC, you can check the FCC national broadband map yourself. Type in your address and the national map will zoom in to your neighborhood, which will be covered with locations with green dots, one for each location where internet service is available. Click on your home, and you’ll see the various options for service.

Challenges can be made on two fronts—address accuracy and service availability. If your address doesn’t appear, you can click on “challenge location.” You can also submit a challenge if the map says a company offers service at your location, but it really doesn’t. Click the “availability challenge” button in the same box. That will bring up a form where you can challenge the information.

Scroll down, complete the form, and choose the reason for your challenge from the drop-down list. You can upload files— screenshots, photos, and emails—that support your challenge. You can also write a description of your experience in the form. Once you hit “submit” your claim will be reviewed by the FCC. If accepted, the agency will pass it on to the internet provider. If the ISP disagrees with you, it will contact you and try to resolve the issue. If the issue can’t be resolved, the FCC will decide who’s right—and if you win the challenge, the ISP has to update its availability data on the map within 30 days of the decision.

The FCC’s new online help center is available to provide assistance with the process.

This entry was posted in FCC, Funding, Opportunities and tagged by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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